Everyone knows that one of the most important needs for survival is water. You know the saying that there is water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Well that saying is spot on. If you drink water that is untreated and not safe, then there is a possibility that you will be putting your life in grave danger.
There are many reasons why the water you find after an event may not be suitable for human consumption.
• Human Contamination- Exposed water supplies can be contaminated from the cause of the event that will cause you to become in survival mode such as, radiation, chemicals, sewage, industrial waste and more.
• Natural Contaminants- Water is a breeding ground for biological microorganisms and consuming water infested with them can prove lethal. Parasites, algae and bacteria can cause disease and other disastrous conditions.
Now that we know that the majority of water will not be safe, what should we do about it? The simplest way, that worked hundreds of years before any other method is to boil water.
That will kill off most anything that can harm you in the water. But it takes time and resources every time you need to treat water. First you have to build a fire, then heat the water to boiling for 30 minutes to be safe. Then before you can drink it you have to take the time to let it cool off. This process can take hours and use up valuable wood you need for heating and cooking food.
Here is a list of some options to purify your water:
1. Chemical Treatment
a. Iodine is used as a wide spectrum disinfectant and is very effective at making water potable by killing off microorganisms. However it takes a while to disinfect your water, and pregnant women or people with thyroid problems shouldn’t consume iodine. Some people are also allergic to iodine. Plus you only want to use this method for a short period of time due to the chemical causing problems with prolonged use.
b. Chlorine is a great disinfectant and is fairly safe for human consumption in small doses. You can use Pool chlorine powder and tablets, and you can even use chlorine bleach. Even FEMA recommends to use bleach “…use regular household bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.”
2. Silver has long been used as a disinfectant in water, and even as a cure for many ailments and infections. It is gaining popularity as water treatment due to its effectiveness and ease of use.
3. Ultraviolet light is used to sterilize microorganisms in water and won’t always kill them but it stops them from reproducing and making you sick. This requires a UV water treatment unit and an electrical supply. This method is most often used as a secondary treatment.
4. Water filtration units are very common in any prepper or survivalists gear. They use different types of filters from ceramic to surgical paper filters to remove debris, dirt and other contaminants. Some are rated to remove microorganisms and this is a great first treatment for your drinking water. Some companies claim you can pump directly from a freshwater source like a stream and drink the water with no farther treatment.
5. Solar still and distillation are processes where you collect water vapor and then you collect the condensation as sterilized water because the contaminants aren’t transferred from water to water vapor. These can be made to be heated with the sun or other sources of energy.
Whichever methods you choose to use it’s important to remember that the more methods you use- the safer you will be. I don’t want to risk drinking possibly deadly water if help may not be available.
As I plan my survival plan I’ll be included many of these methods and the supplies to handle our water needs. My preferred method is filtration and then treatment with chlorine additive. If you have a great system for cleaning your water hit us up on the Facebook page FB.com/PrepCabin.